Yasser, the 100% Algerian startup that is growing fast

Posted on Sunday 10th April 2022 at 09:36

In barely five years and despite its alleged bureaucracy, Algerian startup Yasser, which provides taxi and food delivery services, has established itself in Algeria and the rest of the Maghreb. Its founders are now targeting the global market.

Created by Algerian engineers Noureddine Tibi and Mehdi Yatou, the startup that is very popular in the Maghreb and operates with a 100% Algerian app, rose to prominence at the end of 2021 by raising $30 million from American investors.

Ms. Tibi, who divides her time between Algiers, “was important (for us) to create a model of success that is 100% Algerian, allowing us to rehabilitate local talent and show that we can create value in Algeria.” and California.

The two engineers had to arm themselves with patience to confront an Algerian bureaucracy that is often denounced as not conducive to business and regulations less favorable than elsewhere for startups when they started.

“Bureaucracy is one of the obstacles to overcome,” Tibi said. “I am not saying it is easy, but you have to deal with it and move on.”

Since its launch, Yasser has created more than 40,000 indirect jobs (drivers and conductors) and recorded a “massive increase of 20-40% of his monthly turnover”, assures Mr. Tibi.

After graduating from École Polytechnique in Algeria, Mr. Tibi was a research engineer at a large technology company in Silicon Valley (USA), after receiving his Ph.D. from the American University at Stanford, when he left his comfort zone. To come and create in Algeria a customized taxi application.

She was baptized Yasir – the pun between the words “easy” and “rolling” in Arabic – the discovery of Mr. Yato’s wife, his partner.

Launched in mid-2017 in Algiers, a megacity of 4 million people with a chronic lack of public transportation, Yasser was already present in Oran, Constantine and Annaba at the beginning of 2018.

– ‘Very ambitious’ –

Today, it is present in 25 cities between Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Canada and France, and claims 4 million users.

Al-Tibi said the recently collected funds will be used exclusively for “extension to other countries”.

Yasser barely started in Senegal and plans to establish himself elsewhere in West Africa before the “big markets” of Africa (South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt).

Rapid development despite competition from other apps like Uber or Heetch.

“We are very ambitious. The goal is to create the largest technology company, not only in Africa but in the world. To get to it, you have to be in a lot of regional, continental and global markets,” launched uncomplicated Mr. Tibi.

In order to grow, Yasser must recruit hundreds of brains.

“Yasser is already the largest employer of computer engineers in the Maghreb – more than 600 – and we want to triple or even quadruple that number,” Tibi said.

Besides ordering taxis, the group has diversified into meal delivery and online groceries with Yasser Express.

With the headphones on, about thirty young people respond to the 6000 daily requests received at the call center in Algiers.

“The average meal delivery time is 30 minutes,” Wissam, the center’s director, told AFP.

Today, the startup is preparing to develop its own online payment services, a solution that is still in its infancy in Algeria. Currently, customers pay for their orders, upon receipt in cash.

– ‘Power model’ –

Mr. Tibi explains that “the majority of Algerians and Africans are not bankers. Not because there is no banking system, but because people do not trust it.”

“If we use our on-demand services well, we will end up having a large user base that trusts us. This is the place to offer payment services,” he says.

“It is the strength of our model and what distinguishes us from Uber mainly today,” Mr. Tibi adds.

For this, Yasser must have an impeccable brand image.

“There is a very strict process for selecting drivers,” says Mr. Tibi. “We check their criminal record, training and education. There is even a psychological assessment done to validate their candidacy.”

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